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Some SEO tactics are relatively obvious, like including keywords in your website copy. Others, like the use of meta titles, are less obvious. Meta titles can have an impact on how your webpage ranks. Using meta titles effectively can entice searchers to click on your page over your competitor’s page.

What Is a Meta Title?

A meta title is a succinct, clickable title that appears on the search engine results page, or SERP. A meta title is super brief — usually around 60 characters in length. Most commonly, companies write the title of the web page or article as it appears on the actual site, followed by the website’s name. However, you can structure your meta title differently if needed. Most meta titles include an important keyword related to the webpage to further boost SEO.

Image via Unsplash by thisisengineering

Why Are Meta Titles Important?

Meta titles are an important aspect of SEO. While they’re most recognizable on SERPs, meta titles do appear in other locations, like web browsers and social media platforms. In all of these cases, the meta title is often the searcher’s first introduction to your website, so a clear message and description of what your webpage is about is vital.

  • SERP – In most cases, the meta title you select is what Google and other search engines display as the clickable title on the SERP. It’s often the very first thing people read about your website.
  • Browser – The meta title also displays as the descriptor on your browser’s tab. A clear, easy-to-identify title helps people remember why they opened the tab in the first place.
  • Social media – Some social media platforms use your chosen meta title as the title display for content you share on your page.

How Do You Optimize a Meta Title for SEO?

Take the time to carefully construct optimized meta titles for every page you have. Your meta title can entice a searcher to click and convert rather than just scroll by your content. Follow these steps to maximize the impact of your meta title for SEO:

1. Keep It Brief

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule regarding the length of your meta title, most experts recommend keeping it around 60 characters long. Keeping your meta title short is vital because the search engine, browser, or social media site will simply cut the meta title off if it’s too long rather than rephrase or shorten it.

Google is the most popular search engine, and it does not provide specific guidance on how many characters you should use in your meta title. Google provides two lines for meta titles on mobile devices and a single line on desktops. Because of this, you may have more room on a mobile device than you would on a desktop computer, but you can’t be sure how searchers will access your website.

2. Make It Original

There are two primary reasons you want to ensure your meta title is original and unique. First, the bots that crawl and index webpages struggle with duplicate content. They have a hard time indexing repeated copy, which can hurt your SEO. Second, a duplicate or vague meta title won’t entice searchers to click on your website. It’s important that you optimize every single individual page within your website for both SEO and user impressions.

3. Include Keywords

Add a primary keyword to your meta title. This will not only help your page rank, but it will help searchers know what they can expect from your webpage. Be wary of using too many keywords, though — Google and other search engines sometimes flag “keyword-stuffed” meta titles as spam, which hurts their SERP ranking. You can include a secondary keyword if you have space, but make sure it’s different from your primary keyword.

4. Add Your Name

Include your company’s name at the end of your meta title. For those consumers who are already aware of your business, seeing your name there helps them know they can trust the link. For those who don’t know you yet, you’re building brand awareness and establishing yourself as a reputable expert. Best practices for formatting show you should separate your company’s name from the actual title of your webpage with a colon, dash, or another distinctive punctuation mark.

How Can You Fail at Meta Title SEO?

Meta titles are relatively straightforward once you understand how to structure them and why to use them. However, you can still fall prey to missteps:

  • Forgetting meta titles – Include a meta title with every webpage you have.
  • Using repeated meta titles – Every page should have a unique meta title. Duplication confuses search engines and reduces your SEO.
  • Writing lengthy meta titles – Meta titles that are too long won’t populate properly on the SERP, cutting off important information for the searcher.
  • Keeping meta titles too short – Extreme brevity can also hurt you. Make sure your meta title is descriptive so searchers know what your page is about.
  • Including too many keywords – Using too many keywords makes your meta title look spammy and probably offers little in the way of webpage description.
  • Cannibalizing keywords – For landing pages that include a number of different products, it doesn’t help to combine keywords. Consider splitting up landing pages to better optimize your keywords and meta titles.
  • Ignoring local search – If your business is locally dependent, make sure you include your location in your meta title.
  • Abbreviating words – Most people can figure out what abbreviations mean, but the bots that crawl and index meta titles may not understand what you’re saying.
  • Lacks description – Your meta title should focus on educating searchers about your site, not providing a sales pitch for your product or service.
  • Placing keyword too late – Keep your keywords as close to the beginning of your meta title as grammatically possible.
  • Varying keywords – Your keywords should be consistent throughout the page, meaning your meta title, meta description, and content for a single page should match.

Meta titles can help improve your SEO and customer conversions when well-written and optimized. Ensure you’re taking the time to create original and thoughtful meta titles for all of your individual webpages.

Knowledge Base: SEO

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